Historic North & Harrar

This part includes; Axum, Lalibela, Gonder, semien mountain, and Bahir Dar.

The historic north path is north of the country through famous and fascinating places; from prosperous and ancient places and also leads one through some of the most breath taking scenery of semien mountain national park is along this route. The walled city of Harrar is included in this part considering its historicalness.
Along this route the ancient city of Axum, the rock hewn churches of Lalibela, city of Gonder with its 17th C castle buildings, the ragged semien mountain, the walled city of Harrar [eastern historical attraction], the romantic city of Bahir Dar, the majestic blue Nile fall, and Tana island monastery churches can be visited.

HOW TO ACCESS-  - It could be flight, surface drive and combining both to access the sites.

Flight – you can fly by ETHIOPIAN every day scheduled flight much of the sites with stop over a day or two in each place for visiting.

Drive - having inconvenience of long day drive and stretches of some part rough road and needs more days comparing to flight, tracing the route on the ground gives you the chance to experience real way of life and reveals ragged scenery.

ACCOMMODATION- hotels Along the route and on the destinations are from basic to 3star and also lodges and restaurants are available. See hotel for lists.

ITINERARY-we try to put optional out line itineraries to give many choices as much as we can and there is always a possibility of combining with tigeray rock hewn churches, semien trekking, Danakil depression, and omo tribes tour or others depend on the interest. See tour package for option..
HOST ETHIOPIA TOUR organize a tour to this route all inclusive package to all sites or tailor made part of the site with preferred service to suite specific interest of passengers.
And the tour could be fully escorted from Addis or our agents in every destination will arrange everything in accordance.

Transportation – High bus, coaster bus or minivan will be used depend on the number of passengers

Mysterious monoliths Its very early history is unknown, but high civilization was established by Semitic immigrants from south Arabia centuries before the era of Christ. Axum emerged as the capital 3000 thousand years ago according to legend and 2100years ago according to historian assumption. In both cases Axum one of the old settlement in the world history. By the time birth of Christ Axum rise to its important and dominate the vital cross roads of Africa and Asia. From 1st cA.D-6th c Axum enjoy its high time civilization ,Its territory was overseas the blue Nile river in the west ,Yemen was part of Ethiopia In the east Part of Somalia up to port Barbara ,and Djibouti, Eritrea and south Sudan was Part of Axumite kingdom. At its high time, they were minting coins for internal and eternal trading, and paying salary in coin for their soldiers.

Port Adolis was one of their luxerative income sources because they were trading Middle East, Europe, and Asian countries and the port served as linking point between Africa and the rest of the world besides wide territory tribute.by that time Axum was among 4powerful nation in the world. And to now a days there are many historical reminants or relics which will reminds us the then time and could be Interesting sites for visitor, like different stele which varies from 3mts to 33mts height and more than500tones of weight from a single stone ,well decorated and showed models of story build[upto13story] and hundreds Stele in number. And palace reminants, graves, old buildings, inscriptions in different language are some among them.

Axum has long been considered as holly city for Christian and the cathedral church of the town is Axum Zion. When Christianity reached to Ethiopia in333A.D the first church was Axum Zion. The true ark of the convient believed to be kept [the Ten Commandment] believed to be kept in Axum in special chapel within the church compound under special guarding of the community of the compound and only single priest in the chaple. From the legendery king of Menlik first to the time of emperor Haile selassie coronation was held in Axum.

In the 7th c Axumite empire start to decline due to the expansion of Islamic empire they lost the port and consolidation of local leaders in military power and refuse to pay tribute and claim their independence. At last power shifted to north central Ethiopia Agew land, lasta Lalibela.

Some writer says it's the 8th world wonder. Lalibela is a small town in the middle of the Ethiopian highlands.Its ancient name was Roha but later after king lalibela , It retained the name from the king. His name was Gebre Mesqel (also called simply "Lalibela", which means "the bees recognise his sovereignty" in Old Agaw) was negus or king of Ethiopia, and a member of the Zagwe dynasty; he is also considered a saint by the Ethiopian church. King Lalibela was given the name "Lalibela" due to a swarm of bees said to have surrounded him at his birth, which his mother took as a sign of his future reign as Emperor of Ethiopia. Tradition states that he went into exile due to the hostility of his uncle Tatadim and his brother king Kedus Harbe, and was almost poisoned to death by his half-sister.Lalibela is said to have seen Jerusalem in a vision and then attempted to hewn a new jerusalem to save the life of his peoples who usually Pilgrims to Jerusalem. Because of that everything around lalibela is a representation Jerusalem. Its hewned beneath the earth.

Around lalibelsa there are 11clustered of rock hewn churches classified into 3groups. The 1st comprises six churches known as earthly Jerusalem. The 2nd group is known as heavenly Jerusalem and 3rd one is the beautiful one and hewned at last ,dedicated to saint George.The details about the construction of his 11 monolithic churches at Lalibela have been lost. but historian argue it took 23 years all in general. His chief queen was Masqal Kibra, about whom a few traditions have survived. Some traditions says states that she convinced king Lalibela abdicate in favor of his nephew Na'akueto La'ab, but after 18 months of his nephew's misrule she convinced Lalibela to pass the reign to Lalibela son Yitbarek. Late in the 13th c the Solomonic line consolidated and by the push of church power again shifted to more central Ethiopia by restoring Solomon dynasty

Gonder was a capital city of Ethiopia from 17th to 19thc and was founded by Emperor Fasilides around the year 1635, and grew as an agricultural and market place. Tradition a states that a buffalo led the Emperor Fasilides to a pool beside the Angereb, where an "old and venerable hermit" told the Emperor he would locate his capital there. Fasilides had the pool filled in and built his castle on that same site. The emperor built his still standing palace, swimming pool [house of the of the house], archive and a total of seven churches. During the seventeenth century, the city's population is estimated to have exceeded 60,000 and was the second largest city in the world In 1678, the visiting Armenian bishop Hovannes remarked that the city was "twice as big as Istanbul. Many of the buildings from this period survive, despite the turmoil of the eighteenth century. By the reign of Iyasu the Great, Gondar had acquired a sense of community identity; when the Emperor called upon the inhabitants to decamp and follow him on his campaign against the Oromo in Damot and Gojjam, as had the court and subjects of earlier emperors, they refused. The town served as Ethiopia's capital until Tewodros II moved the Imperial capital to Magadala upon being crowned Emperor in 1855; the city was plundered and burnt in 1864, then devastated again in December, 1866. Abdallahi ibn Muhammad sacked Gondar when he invaded Ethiopia June 1887. Gondar was ravaged again in 23 January in the next year, when the Sudanese invaders set fire to almost every one of the city's churches, and at last during the Italian occupation in1936and the English bombs to expel the Italian destroyed gonder.

The modern city of Gondar is popular as a tourist attraction for its many picturesque ruins in the Royal Enclosure, from which the Emperors once reigned. The most famous buildings in the city lie in the Royal Enclosure, which include Fasilides castle, Iyasu's Palace, Dawit's Hall, a banqueting hall, stables, Mentewab's Castle, a chancellery, library and three churches. Near the city lie Fasiladas' Bath, home to an annual ceremony where it is blessed and then opened for bathing; the Qusquam complex, built by Empress Mentewab; the eighteenth century Ras Mikael Sehul's Palace and the Debre Berhan Selassie Church. Gonder was the important center for adminstrative, comerce, religion, [king fasiledes the revivalist of orthodox tewahido sect] calture and noted for skill of different crafts.

Its 1hr drive from the the town of bhir dar across the bride to the majestic fall of blue Nile fall.its locally known as Tis Isat ,means smoke of fire .When it flood Its 400mts wide and dropping over 45mts deep and the spray of water drencheson looker upto a kilometer away and produce a rainbow across the gorge. Besides the fall the sourece of blue Nile lake tana out let of the river an interest for visitor.

Lake Tana the biggest lake in Ethiopia with an area of 3000km surface and the source for Blue Nile Lake Tana has thirty-seven islands, twenty of which are home to churches and monasteries of significant historical and cultural interest.the are decortated by beautiful painting and innumearable treasures. The islands with interesting historic churches are Birgida Maryam, Dega Estifanos, Dek, Narga selassie, Tan Cherkos, Mitsele Fasilada, kebran Gebriel, Debre Maryam,Ura Kidnemehret, Azwa marizm and Giogreous. Many of these churches have beautiful mural paintings and house church crosses, crowns and clothes of former kings. Some the churches and monasteries are off-limits to women .All the churches approached by boat from the port of Bahir dar town from the south side of the lake or from gorgora from from the north side.

The semien mountain is the most ragged mountain but majestic, is found along the historic north near to Gonder. Its gigantic and hard cores of volcanic out lets and its surrounding materials eroded away over the centuries. The semien mountain its part of the world heritage because of its land feature and its the home of 3 endemic game animals[Childa baboon,Walia ibex and Semien fox] and countless endemic plants.The highest mountain in Ethiopia namely Ras Dashen 4th higest africa [its 4620mts above sea level] is found with the massive of the semien mountain.

Harar is an eastern city in Ethiopia, and the capital of the modern Harari ethno-political division of Ethiopia. The city is located on a hilltop, in the eastern extension of the Ethiopian highlands about five hundred kilometers from Addis Ababa with an elevation of 1885 Mts.
For centuries, Harar has been a major commercial centre, linked by the trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and, through its ports, the outside world.

Harar Jugol has been included in the World Heritage List in 2006 by UNESCO in recognition of its cultural heritage. It is considered "the fourth holiest city of Islam" with 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines. Harar is also famous for its distinctive, natural processed coffees which bear the same name.

Harar was founded between the 7th and the 11th century [according to different sources] and emerged as the center of Islamic culture and religion in the Horn of Africa. It was part of the Adal Sultanate (at times a vassal of Ethiopia) of which it became the capital in 1520 under Abu Bakr. From Harar, Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi, also known as "Gragn the Left-handed," launched a war of conquest in the sixteenth century that extended its territory and even threatened the existence of the Christian Ethiopian empire. His successor, Emir Nur ibn Mujahid, encircled the city with a wall, 4 meters high and with five gates. This wall, called Jugol, is still intact, and is a symbol of the town to the inhabitants.

The 16 century was the Golden Age of Harar. The local culture flourished, and many poets lived and wrote there. It also became known for coffee, weaving, basketry and bookbinding. The rulers of Harar also struck its own currency.

Harar lost some of its commercial importance with the creation of the Addis Ababa - Djibouti Railway, initially intended to run via the city but diverted north of the mountains between Harar and the Awash River to save money. As a result of this, Dire Dawa was founded in 1902 as New Harar.

The inhabitants of Harar represent several ethnic groups, both Muslim and Christian, including Amhara, Oromo, Somali, Gurage, Tigray, and others. Nevertheless, within the walled city, the indigenous Harari are predominant. The Harari, who refer to themselves as Gey 'Usu ("People of the City") are a Semitic speaking people, once thought to be descended from an Aksumite military outpost. Today, they are most commonly classed as a social and cultural, rather than as a distinct ethnic group, since most families have intermingled with the neighboring groups, and were welcoming of foreigners into their community. Their language, Harari, constitutes a Semitic pocket in a predominantly Cushitic region. Originally written in the Arabic script, it has recently converted to the Ge'ez alphabet.

Harar mosque
The old town is home to 110 mosques and many more shrines, centered on Feres Magala square. Notable buildings include Medhane Alem Cathedral, the house of Ras Mekonnen, the house of Arthur Rimbaud, and the sixteenth century Jami Mosque. Harrar Bira Stadium is the home stadium for the Harrar Beer Botling FC, used for football (soccer) matches. One can also visit the market.
A long standing tradition of feeding meat to hyenas has also developed (during the 1960s) into an impressive night show for tourists.
Other places of interest include the highest amba overlooking the city, the Kondudo or "W" mountain, which hosts an ancient population of feral horses. A 2008 scientific mission has unleashed efforts for their conservation, as they are one of the most endangered wild horse packs in the world.

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“More interesting to stay longer in Omorate
Omorate tribal village and at Turkana lake , which is less touristy. Guide: very positive, attentive, considerate and helpful. Very efficient, dependable. Good attention to detail. We were well taken care. We would highly recommend Host Ethiopia Tour....”

Tourist From Australia



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